03 November, 2009


A scriptwriter in Hollywood couldn’t script this event better. Before this contest, I had dismissed the ridiculous notion of revenge, vindication, exorcizing demons, and on and on and on with the hyperbole. All I wanted to do was to chill and watch some football with my PantherFanz pals and catch a little buzz. (Thanks so much Brain and Julie for having us! And thanks so much to the other PantherFanZ that joined us!) I gave the Puddycats little chance of even making this interesting.

How wrong I was! How wrong the rest of you were! No one short of Redd Foxx was going to entertain retribution for a horrid harbinger of malevolent football karma, but there it was. That old axiom about the heart of a champion held true on this day. To a man, the Panthers simply nutted up, and played the game of their vision. A “manhood” game, I said, several times during our afternoon.

Which left me gladdened when the game clock read 00:00, but simultaneously miffed.


This was the game that was supposed to be played back in January! This is what we were supposed to see happen when we kicked off against the Fleeguls back in September! To have to wait an agonizing eight weeks to see this team certainly dims the shine of our sparkling desert triumph to me. Perhaps it’s a character flaw of not only me, but many Pantherfans to want our team to start fast, continue strong, and finish first, and not consider the circumstances. I have bitched endlessly about the defense, especially Julius Peppers. It’s possible that the defensive players have finally bought into Ron Meek’s schemes. I know Tommy Davis has. Sherrod Martin apparently has – and how about this –

Julius Peppers, at last, has.

When any defense plays like this against the top teams in the league, there’s always a chance. That’s all most of us have asked to see. When the defense makes the field short for the offense, there’s always a chance. When your star receiver stops whining about his status as an ass-set and makes key blocks in the passing attack, there’s always a chance. And when the embattled quarterback only needs to pass for 90yards while your running game GASHES the league’s NUMBER ONE RUSHING DEFENSE – without turning the ball over -

That’s a recipe for victory, friends.

While I think this performance is late, it’s refreshing to see. Even though Monday morning was drizzly and dreary, I felt brighter. Happier. Proud. For once this season, we are talking about a near-perfect execution of FoxBall, and not the bumbling coaching misfires, the multiplying malfunctions of the quarterback. If you think about it, I’d bet you yourselves were feeling the same cheerful sprit after this victory. And oh, by the way, another mighty NFC standard is now under the white hot glare of unhappy fans. With the struggles of the GeeMen, Duckies, Packers and Niners, all of a sudden, even at 3-4, unlikely as it is, we can begin to think about “what ifs”.

I just hope that’s not a one-game aberration.

If we play like this next week, and the absurd notion of being that team that hands the invincible Saints it's first loss of the year actually comes to fruit- there’s no telling what this team could achieve. And yet – there’s the Jake question.

Like I said in opening my rant, you could NOT script this. The downtrodden Delhomme embraces his good friend and former NFL Europe teammate Kurt Warner. AND THE NEARLY IDENTICAL PERFORMANCE FROM THE PLAYOFF DEBACLE transfers, in true Star Trekkie fashion, from Delhomme to Warner, much like the demon jumped from person to person in the “Jack the Ripper” episode. I’m not buyin’ it. I stand by my lack of confidence in Jake Delhomme. If he has to throw the ball for us to win, we simply are not. At one time, I thought Jake to be Favre “Light”. He’s not even close. I seem to recall another embattled QB, Trent Dilfer, he of the miserable Suckaneers, becoming a game manager for the Balty-Moore Ravens, and winning a ring back in 2000. In order for the Carolina Panthers to become even a middle-of-the-pack team, Delhomme is going to have to be that game manager. He is going to have to learn how to throw the ball away when there’s nothing open. He his going to have to realize his weakness, and play in spite of them. With a resurgent defense behind him, and a magnificent backfield and offensive line, he owes them that, if not us, the fans.

And yet, I remember how I felt when my hero, Rocky Balboa, took the beating of his life from Clubber Lang. I felt miserable for him, and for me. And you knew he was going to get another chance, but his training went poorly until a certain spark deep inside of the South Philly pugilist ignited, and he got a chance at vindication by knocking out his adversary at the end of the movie. Just a movie, yes, but this contest felt a lot like “Rocky III” to me. Could have been better timed, but the season’s still young. Irony and karma and impossible circumstance are alive and well in the NFL! While it’s our optimistic nature to see Sunday’s game as a turning point, the realist in me is holding judgment until I see more.

Until I see this same effort duplicated against the New Orleans Saints this Sunday afternoon.

And then I’ll have more to rant about. This is one nice victory in an otherwise disappointing season so far. I’m not getting too upbeat about this. Now, if this is the beginning of a trend, I am going to have to eat a lot of critical verbiage I’ve spewed on this blog. I won’t mind. Dano’s awesome pork goes great with anything…

I’m ranted out for now.

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